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Campus offering

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OHSE201 Introduction to OHS

Teaching organisation

3 hours of lectures and tutorials per week for 12 weeks as the on-campus load during the semester or equivalent. Online students are expected to spend a minimum of 8 hours per week on study, readings and assessment preparation.

Unit rationale, description and aim

OHSE management systems are both proactive and reactive in nature and knowledge and skills need to be developed in both of these areas if such systems are to meet organisational and statutory requirements. Indeed, it is not only necessary for OHSE practitioners to reduce the potential of hazards and incidents occurring, so far as is reasonably practicable, but also to then analyse and learn from such when they are reported. This unit introduces you to the foundation concepts of work design principles, tools and methods; engineered safe design; managing process safety; mechanical plant; psychology of safety behaviour; incident management; developing protocols; data/evidence collection; data analysis - models of causation; interview skills for OHSE practitioners; and closing out investigations. In learning about these topics will have the opportunity to explore and understand a wide range of issues pertaining to hazard and incident management in contemporary organizational and statutory contexts, and develop skills in preparing a site-specific hazard and incident management protocol, and practice scenario-based interview skills with a witness to an OHSE incident. In adopting this approach, this unit aims to provide you with the necessary knowledge, understanding and skills to effectively manage hazards and incidents in contemporary settings in your role as an OHSE practitioner.

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1 - describe the principles of workplace design to manage risks associated with work hazards (GA1, GA3, GA4, GA5, GA6, GA8, GA10) 

LO2 - describe strategies to manage process safety and mechanical plant (GA3, GA4, GA5, GA6, GA8, GA10) 

LO3 - synthesise the principles pertaining to psychology of safety behaviour as they apply to OHSE hazards and incidents (GA1, GA3, GA4, GA5)

LO4 - develop hazard and incident management protocols in a national and international legislative and organisational context (GA3, GA4, GA5, GA6, GA8) 

LO5 - apply basic skills in incident management using professional OHSE communication skills (GA1, GA3, GA4, GA5). 

Graduate attributes

GA1 - demonstrate respect for the dignity of each individual and for human diversity 

GA3 - apply ethical perspectives in informed decision making

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

GA5 - demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession 

GA6 - solve problems in a variety of settings taking local and international perspectives into account

GA8 - locate, organise, analyse, synthesise and evaluate information 

GA10 - utilise information and communication and other relevant technologies effectively.


Topics will include: 

  • work design principles, tools and methods 
  • engineered safe design 
  • managing process safety 
  • mechanical plant 
  • psychology of safety behaviour 
  • incident management 
  • developing protocols (rules, procedures and documentation) 
  • data/evidence collection 
  • data analysis – models of causation 
  • closing out investigations 
  • interview skills for OHSE practitioners. 

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This unit employs a learning strategy that combines active learning (online lecture videos, reading, writing, discussion, critical analysis and problem solving) and peer learning methods (discussion forums with lecturer input). Optional live online classrooms will be offered at regular intervals throughout the teaching period in order to allow students synchronous access to their lecturer and peers at defined times. Use of applied case studies and real-life scenarios with reference to legislation and standards as well as national and international contexts are used to facilitate applied action learning. The provision of timely student feedback is also a key aspect of the learning and teaching strategy as this allows students to direct future learning behaviours and performance in a meaningful way. The online learning environment can be challenging in terms of encouraging student interaction and participation, and the unit’s teaching methods have been chosen on the grounds that they are most likely to support the achievement of learning outcomes and participation by a geographically diverse cohort of students. 

Assessment strategy and rationale

Three assessment items are required in this unit. The first, based around online discussion, requires you to combine your own views and experiences with research from the academic literature. It also requires you to consider and respond to views expressed or questions posed by other students. The second item requires you to draw on the concepts covered in this subject, as well as relevant academic literature, as a means of preparing a detailed site specific hazard and incident management protocol. For the third item, you are required to submit a video recording of an interview with a witness to a case study OHSE incident, with this also including a reflective self-analysis element. Although items two and three are to be practical/applied in nature and include a reflective element, they constitute academic submissions, and must therefore satisfy that evidentiary standard. 

In order to pass this unit, you are required to achieve an overall mark of at least 50%. The assessment tasks for this unit are designed for you to demonstrate your achievement of each learning outcome. 

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Assessment 1: Discussion Forum  

This task aims to assess your basic knowledge of principles of work design, process safety, mechanical plant, and the psychology of safety behaviour. It also assesses your ability to use professional interactive communication skills. 


LO1, LO2, LO5 

GA1, GA3, GA4, GA5, GA8, GA10  

Assessment 2: Site Specific Hazard and Incident Management Protocol 

This applied task aims to authentically assess your ability to develop hazard and incident management protocols with reference to relevant legislative and organisational contexts and to the psychology of safety behaviour. It also provides the opportunity to test your written communication skills for the business environment. 


LO4, LO5 

GA3, GA4, GA5, GA6, GA8 

Assessment 3: Video Record of Interview Skills 

The purpose of this task is to assess your OHSE communication skills specific to interviewing a witness to and OHSE incident. Your synthesis of the psychology of safety behaviour will also be assessed. 


LO3, LO5 

GA1, GA3, GA4, GA5, GA10  

Electronic submission, marking and return is being used for this unit. Submission will be via Turnitin, and checking for academic honesty will occur. 

Representative texts and references

Wilson, J. & Sharples, S 2015. Evaluation of Human Work, Fourth Edition. CRC Press, ISBN 9781466559615.  

Yates, W 2015, Safety Professional's Reference and Study Guide, Second Edition. CRC Press, ISBN 9781482256659.  

Glendon, A. & Clarke, S 2015, Human Safety and Risk Management: A Psychological Perspective, Third Edition. CRC Press, ISBN 9781482220544.  

Archer, R., Borthwick, K. & Travers, M 2017, WHS: A Management Guide, Edition 5. Cengage Learning Australia, ISBN 9780170386319.  

Hollnagel, E 2012, The ETTO Principle: Efficiency-Thoroughness Trade-Off: Why Things That Go Right Sometimes Go Wrong. Ashgate Publishing Ltd, ISBN 9780754676782. 

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